Michael Kenna: Nature vs Machinery

"The Rouge" by Michael Kenna. Dearborn, MI 1995

Like many other cities in the state of Michigan, Dearborn is known for its industrial environment. Michael Kenna captures this setting in his photo album, The Rouge. This picture interested me for a few reasons. The color saturation of the photo, black and white, creates a surreal tone. It’s as if I am is placed in a dream, where nothing is totally discernible, but I can still use my senses to comprehend the photographer’s motive. Dearborn, a city that is nowhere near to a jungle, is actually a jungle itself. Instead of the lush, emerald-colored trees that stretch high into the sky, it is the smokestacks of Dearborn that reach into the heavens. Just as in an Amazonian jungle, there seems to be no permanent human habitants in the factories and warehouses in Dearborn. Both jungles give back to living beings, as the “typical” jungle gives residence and protection to animals, while the industrial jungles of Dearborn provide jobs and a source of income. I also chose this picture because I love how Kenna subtly incorporates the issue of nature vs machinery. As aforementioned, the background of the photo contains smokestacks stemming out of factories. All nine of them are man-made, symmetrical, and perfectly in line — typical industrial architecture. However, the foreground contains rocks, straight from Mother Nature. The rocks in the foreground emphasizes that nature will always be more powerful than machinery. It has that omnipotent force. The rocks grow in no particular direction, just growing whereever natures wants them too. When comparing the lines of the rocks to those of the mundane smokestacks, it makes you appreciate the the wonderful randomness of nature and its shapes



  1. ajryce said,

    March 29, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    I agree the color saturation in this photo is very eye catching and adds a lot to the image. I also really liked what you said about Dearborn being a jungle despite it being very industrial rather than filled with lots of wild nature; I thought that was a particularly insightful comment. I think Kenna likes to but industry and nature side by side in a lot of his photos; the picture I chose had the same theme, and I think that’s why I wanted to write about it. I’m guessing you were intrigued similarly by this.

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